HOW TO FIND THE SIGNAL AMONGST THE NOISE OF BRANDING EXPERTS: TOP 3 QUESTIONS TO ASK
Ten years ago I realized that after thirteen years of practicing securities law, I was done. I knew there had to be a better way for me to be of service to professionals and those around me. I no longer felt the joy I once had about being a lawyer. I was no longer of service the way I wanted to be.
Eight years ago, I realized that my natural talents (and real passion and joy) was in developing brands for others. In other words, how can others put forth their natural talents and abilities in a way such that they shine and attract business and positive attention with ease and grace. No resistance. Ever.
So I called the business “personal branding” because I really didn’t know what else to call it. What I do isn’t traditional marketing and it doesn’t involve products, so only the term “personal” made sense when it came to branding.
About four years ago, the term “personal branding” became really hot. Everyone realized that, post-recession, they needed to define themselves differently- and better. As a result, the term “branding” started gaining more press and usage.
The problem was that everyone (and their brother) who had anything to do with marketing (of anything) started to say they are experts at personal brand development and branding, in general. I was clear on what I was doing, but I began getting a lot of confused people asking me some very good questions. They couldn’t distinguish the real branding experts from the fly by night wanna-be businesses that were after the fast buck until the trend ended.
Here’s the deal. Personal branding and branding are not trends. The concept will never end, nor should it. After all, if you want to figure out how to attract business (or a date or a friend) to you with ease, then you need to figure out your brand.
Here’s the problem. It’s a concept called signal versus noise. The brilliant lawyer, Patrick Lamb, who runs Valorem Law Group, writes about this concept in his popular blog at patrickjlamb.com. I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick a few weeks ago when he was a speaker at the ABA Lead Law event I helped organize.
Patrick explains signal versus noise in the following manner: Signal to noise ratio refers informally to the ratio of useful information (signal) to false or irrelevant data in a conversation or exchange (noise). Why this happens is that if someone is putting out there an attractive message with merit (signal), then others try to drown out (or detract attention from what’s right/has merit) with lots of noise that is useless. This method works because it causes distraction and confusion.
What does this mean for you? If you are working on defining and developing your brand so that you present yourself in the best light possible, you’ll need the assistance of a branding expert to serve your objective partner, consultant and expert. Don’t allow the noise of non-branding folks to confuse you.
Here are the top 3 questions to ask anyone who claims to be a personal branding, or branding, expert. If they can’t answer the questions well, then consider that they are likely all noise and no signal:
- How long have you been in the business of personal branding/branding and WHY?
Since the notion of personal branding and branding didn’t really gain steam until about 7 years ago amongst the common public, if the answer you get is that they have been doing branding for less than 8 years, consider going elsewhere.
The answer to WHY they have been in business isn’t as cut and dry. Really listen for their story of how they ended up running a personal branding/branding business. Do you hear passion and purpose in their story? Are they really a life or business coach or PR company that has tacked on “branding” to their list of services? Or do they really “get” the distinction of branding people and their complexities?
- What exactly do you do for your clients to develop their brands?
Listen hear to make sure they really focus on YOU the person and not just the overall business. Personal branding means getting in the trenches with people- often just one person at a time. It’s not about logos and websites or PR. That’s the easier stuff in my book. Personal branding comes first and sets up the logo, website and PR for success.
- How do you compare/contrast yourself from traditional marketing?
Here’s your chance for you to see if they really understand the true notions of marketing versus branding. Are they making you feel like they think outside the box and are creative? If so, that’s what they’ll do for your brand. That’s a good thing. Or do they make you feel ho-hum because they keep regurgitating the same old tired marketing concepts (ie, network, publish, listen, be nice, stand out, etc)
If you have particular questions individual to just you, I’m happy to be of service. Please feel free to send me an email: email@example.com